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Dublin: 16 °C Saturday 11 July, 2020
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Q&A: Everything you need to know about Airtricity League final weekend

As the domestic leagues draw to a close, here are some briefing notes that you can use to wow your barstooler buddies.

Dean Kelly celebrates his injury-time goal which won the league for Shamrock Rovers on Tuesday night in Belfield.
Dean Kelly celebrates his injury-time goal which won the league for Shamrock Rovers on Tuesday night in Belfield.
Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

What’s left to play for?

Umm, in the Premier Division, nothing.

Nothing?

Yup, barring an outrageous swing in goal difference, the final standings in the Premier Division table are set.

Shamrock Rovers sealed back-to-back league titles in dramatic fashion with a 2-1 win over UCD on Tuesday evening.

That win pushed their advantage over second-placed Sligo Rovers to an unassailable four points and they’ll be presented with the league trophy in Tallaght Stadium tonight.

So who’s going to be in the Champions League and Europa League next year?

Provided UEFA don’t change the way in which European spots are allocated, Ireland will have four teams in European action again next season.

As league winners, Shamrock Rovers will go in to the second qualifying round of the Champions League, the same stage they began their campaign at this season.

After that, it all gets a little bit complicated. Derry City finished third in the Premier Division and so should be entitled to a place in the first qualifying round of the Europa League. But they are technically a “new club” since their reformation in February of last year and may fall foul of UEFA rules which stipulate that clubs have to be in existence for at least three years before they can enter European competition.

League runners-up Sligo Rovers are also guaranteed a Europa League spot, but again, it’s a little bit tricky. If the Bit O’Red beat Shelbourne in the FAI Cup final next weekend, they will go into the second qualifying round and St Patrick’s Athletic (as the next highest team in the league) will go into the first qualifying round.

But if Shelbourne win the cup, they will go into the second qualifying round, Sligo will drop back to the first, and St Pat’s will miss out altogether.

Confused yet?

Yeah, a bit. Tell me about promotion and relegation…

Ok. The Premier Division is being expanded to 12 teams next season, so none of the top flight teams are guaranteed to go down.

Instead what will happen is that the top two teams in the First Divison will be automatically promoted, and the third-placed team will play Galway United (who finished bottom of the Premier Division) in a two-legged promotion/relegation playoff.

The first leg will take place next Tuesday, 1 November, with the First Division side at home with the second leg on Friday 5 November in the Premier Division team’s ground.

Which of the First Division teams are still in contention?

This is where all the excitement really is, because it’s all still to play for.

Shelbourne have guaranteed themselves one of the two automatic promotion spots, while at worst, Cork will finish in the playoff place. The Leesiders travel to Tolka Park tomorrow night knowing that a win will see them win the league, while any other result will hand the title to Shels.

Monaghan United and Limerick are still in the hunt for promotion places. The best that Limerick can hope for is third place and the play-off spot; they host Waterford tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, Roddy Collins’ Monaghan travel to Athlone Town knowing that if they can match or better Limerick’s result at home to Waterford, they will be guaranteed at least third spot. If results go their way (i.e. both themselves and Shels win), they will leapfrog Cork for automatic promotion.

Eh, can I just see the table and work it out for myself?

Sure.

And how about the fixtures?

Premier Division (Friday, 7.45pm):

  • Drogheda United v St Pat’s
  • Derry City v Bohemians
  • Bray Wanderers v Dundalk
  • Shamrock Rovers v Galway United
  • Sligo Rovers v UCD

First Division (Saturday, 7.45pm):

  • Shelbourne v Cork City
  • Wexford Youths v Salthill Devon
  • Mervue United v Finn Harps
  • Athlone Town v Monaghan United
  • Limerick v Waterford United

Heaven 17: Shamrock Rovers celebrate their league win (Photos)

Trapattoni hopeful on Ireland’s walking wounded

Poll: did Trap get his squad decision right?

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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